Yeah, I have done that before with a sock monkey... still put it in the just for fun forum. Light and composition test.
^This... diffuse that flash! Makes a big difference! Example below!
Iron Man 2 by CGipson Photography, on Flickr
b&w is an odd choice for these, surely? Also, think more dramatic lighting. Superdudes or whatever are dramatic, right? Side lighting, light from below, high ratios, and for heaven's, in color! For small objects you don't need much diffusion to create *apparent* softness, because of the small scale.
Not more distance... The larger the modifier, the softer the light / The closer the modifier, the softer the light!
Closer, as in, the modifier is closer to the flash?